independent

Friday 18 April 2014

TH€ PUNT: Put credit union fears to rest

MOVES by the Central Bank to stop credit unions holding their annual general meetings when there is concern about their finances are well intentioned but often have the effect of frightening members.

That was certainly the case with Clones Credit Union. After two years, the lender finally got permission to hold its AGM, which duly went ahead this week.

Some 300 people turned up from the more than 7,000 members, to be told that the finances of the credit union were back on track.

But the fact that the credit union was not allowed to hold an agm for two years caused nasty rumours to swirl around the town.

People feared the worst and were worried about their savings. Clones town councillor Peter McAleer was among those calling on the Central Bank to allow the officers of the credit union to hold the annual meeting so the members' concerns could be put to rest.

This situation has been replicated up and down the country.

More than 30 credit unions have had to get a financial bailout from a special fund set up by the League of Credit Unions, while around 100 lenders are under close watch from the regulator. Many of these have had their agms delayed.

The Central Bank is right to keep a close watch of the sector, but should also be mindful of the fears of ordinary members.

This is particularly important as tough regulations under a new act are being debated in the Dail at the moment.

Members and their money have to be the main concern.

'Slasher Walsh' targets Iberia

Losing €1.7m a day doesn't make for a viable business proposition

That's put IAG chief executive Willie Walsh on a collision course with Spanish unions as he tries to save Iberia by shoring up its finances.

He's announced that IAG will cut 4,500 jobs from Iberia, which is part of the IAG group that also owns British Airways, due to the mounting losses at the Spanish carrier.

Needless to say, unions have railed against the planned losses, even though they'd been expecting more.

In yesterday's 'El Pais' newspaper, unions accused IAG management of offloading its own failures on to staff.

For over a decade, Willie Walsh -- himself a one-time vociferous member of Irish pilot union IALPA while flying aircraft for Aer Lingus before he eventually became chief executive there -- has spent his time battling unions as he restructured airlines, including British Airways.

He became known as "Slasher Walsh" and the nickname is bound to endure as he faces the challenge of pushing through the massive job cuts at Iberia.

During his time helping IALPA, he offered a pearl of wisdom that he has since downplayed: "A reasonable man gets nowhere in negotiations."

In airlines generally, however, that seems to be the case.

Bank pay review rich in irony

It's an interesting titbit in the midst of the controversy over pay at the state's bailed out banks.

Consultancy and pensions administration firm Mercer has been drafted in by the Department of Finance to review remuneration levels, but figures show that employees of the consultancy company received remuneration of €83,000 each last year on average.

Granted, there will be those in the management club who no doubt get much more than that, and some rank and file staff who earn less.

But the irony of consultants on comfortable salaries reviewing the pay of others will not be missed.

The total bill for staff costs was a whopping €46m, when social welfare costs were included. This is divided out between 502 staff.

The figure was down from €47.1m in 2010, when the company had an extra 38 workers.

Irish Independent

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